Over the years my bands have performed at many many events of all shapes and sizes. I’ve played acoustic background music with a small instrumental jazz quartet for backyard wedding receptions with an intimate gathering of close friends and relatives. I’ve had my bigger band play for large corporate events at the Salt Palace, providing the main entertainment for a seated convention crowd of 8,000; with rehearsed timing and entrances, boosted with huge speakers and complicated audio-visuals to accompany the music.
No matter the size or complexity of the event, it is essential to communicate well with the event planner, whether it’s the bride herself or an events expert from a large company. This communication may be as simple as emails back and forth, or as complex as multiple meetings or long phone calls going over the needs and plans for the event to go off without a hitch.
A few things which I have learned over the years which are important for the musician to discuss with the event planner:
1. Music Style. Often a client requests a mellow jazz band for their wedding reception but once the reception begins they start to request popular dance music. For this reason I’ve greatly expanded the repertoire of my band and vocalist, so that we are prepared to do the modern chart-toppers.
2. Special requests. Determine the Daddy-daughter and First Dance numbers long before the night of the reception. A request for an obscure song made the night of an event usually can’t be fulfilled . . . plan ahead with the client so that expectations are clear and can be met.
3. What to do in case of a need for en extended performance time. Let’s say the company party got to a late start, or the wedding reception is going so well that everyone wants to stay and party longer than the planned time. This is a common eventuality which must be discussed beforehand. If an agreement is reached before the event starts then the event planners and musicians already have a clear plan of action should the client choose to extend their party.
4. Will the band be served dinner? This seems small but can be a big deal if the band is playing starting in the evening going until late. Plan early to stay within expectations.
5. What is the band going to be wearing? Tuxes or concert black are the most common, but sometimes there is a certain look and feel desired . . . such as a mardi gras party, or a new year’s marquerade ball, etc.